I can’t stop thinking about pickleball and the tremendous growth the sport has experienced in recent years. In fact, pickleballers are now officially part of my personal life. I suddenly have groups of friends who are taking up paddles and blowing up my phone with text threads about pick-up games (I have yet to purchase a paddle). I’m also regularly seeing weekend coverage of national tournaments on ESPN. It’s no wonder parks departments across the country are looking to add courts as fast as they can.
Yes, I realize the meteoric rise of pickleball has been a topic of conversation for some time (USA Pickleball has had a demonstration court at the past three AB Shows, and this publication’s extensive coverage of the sport dates back nearly 10 years, to September 2013), and many early adopters are likely scoffing at how horribly late to the party I am. Recently, however, it just feels like this sport, perfect for all ages, is finally having its breakout moment.
I think pickleball’s simplicity is key to its growing popularity. It’s essentially ping pong adapted for the court, and the basics can be learned in about 10 minutes. From there it’s all about refining technique, perfecting strategy, having fun and getting in a good workout. It’s also an activity that is in alignment with all segments of the Athletic Business audience. From community and college rec professionals to athletics administrators to private fitness purveyors, I’m betting that a good majority of our readers have had their interest piqued by pickleball in the past year.
I hope readers enjoy the feature in this issue (page 36) about how cities are striving to meet the demand for more pickleball courts. I enjoyed speaking to parks department officials, as well as USA Pickleball representatives, about the passionate community that has formed around this sport. Rest assured, we’ll be keeping tabs on pickleball going forward with the aim of helping our loyal readers make informed decisions on how they can best support the fastest-growing sport in America. In the meantime, I might just grab a paddle this summer and see if it lives up to the hype.